Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Shout Out

I have never professed to being a great writer. Sure, I am proficient, but certainly not great. But I am a great reader. I read voraciously, I literally consume books... I have to really because a good story will consume me otherwise. I will pine all day when I want to get back to my book.

Every day I read blogs, newspapers, marketing materials. Pretty much every day I have my coffee and check my feeds. On days when I wake up late, I head straight for SFDB to catch local news and blogs. A few weeks ago, Rick picked up a story published by Jane Doe at Miami Beach 411 about her relationship with addiction.

That story was one of a three part series, and it grabbed me for several reasons. Firstly, it's well written, it's highly personal without being disengaging. Secondly, while I have never personally battled with addiction, I have been close to several people who have. It's scary. It's all consuming. And this story expresses that. You have to read through all three chapters of the story, and I certainly will not recap it, because it's not my story to tell, but I will say this: Often, it's difficult for people to separate themselves enough from addiction to be able to clearly tell a story about it's destructive forces. I think Jane came as close as they come, especially with as recent as some of these incidents seem to be in her life.

I also think it's a very brave thing to write this story and then give it away to the world. Even as an anonymous author, it's something that has to be revisited. Additionally, I find it commendable that MB411 posted the story. As a travel website, they know very well how people perceive Miami Beach - as a fun party place where everyone is sexy, everyone does drugs, and that's "cool." To publish a story, three in fact, that portrays hard-core drug use as a truly destructive force is pretty amazing.

So kudos to you Jane. I know you will stay strong, I know good things are coming for you.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Share a little sunshine

As I was on my way to work this week, I lost patience with my iPod, and elected to switch on NPR instead. And I was making my hour commute (one way), this story came on, which incensed me to no end. Was it because it was early and I was driving an hour (on a good day) to work? No, it's because this story further pointed out what idiots are running our state.

On Tuesday, NPR was reporting on Charlie Crist's new idea for job growth. Does it involve investing in our state to make it more appealing? No. Does it involve a new set of tax incentives that would lure businesses to relocate or open up shop down here? No. Apparently Crist, and all his people up in Tallahassee sat down and said, "Gee, we are in a bad state here. higher than average unemployment and underwater houses in parts of the state, people leaving for more stable places with lower property tax, and tourism is slumping because there's been a recession that's making people stay home. What do we do? I know! Lets invite our friends!"

What came out of this powwow is Share a Little Sunshine. My long-time readers know why this pisses me off. Everyone is hurting, across the nation, and Crist's idea to save our state is to invite our friends down to visit? Really? WTF are these people thinking? NPR quoted Crist as saying, "For every 85 people that come to visit, 1 job is created." Wow. So Mr. Crist, what kind of job? A nice stable, well-paying job like cleaning hotel rooms, parking cars or waiting tables? Because I know that's the kind of job that pays my bills year round. And I would like to know, how stable is that job? Is that a job that's created long-term? Doubtful, more likely its a six month job with no benefits and no stability. And what happens if a Katrina blows through Florida? Or another Andrew? Then tourism is shot for a good few years.

So my real question is this, Mr. Crist. Who are your advisors? What makes you think that leaning on one industry to support an entire state is a good business plan? Since we are already in such a dire position, does it really hurt to look into how we, as a state can diversify our assets? I mean, if this was your stock portfolio, I'm fairly certain your advisor wouldn't recommend putting all your money into one stock. It comes back to the age-old adage: Don't put all your eggs in one basket. Even if the person holding the basket is a Kardashian sister.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Why I hate going out in Coconut Grove

I know alot of people in the grove are grumbling about this 5 am vs 2 am rule. They argue that it's going to kill businesses because people don't want to end their parties at 2 a.m., and thus will be driven to other parts of Miami.

I went out last weekend to the grove to meet some friends, and I have my own opinion as to why the grove's late-night scene is dying. I remember going out in the grove in grad school, and it being packed. I also remember walking back to my friend's house a few years ago and seeing a nasty knife fight. Has it changed? Does that happen all the time? I don't know because I rarely go back. And the reason why is parking. All over the grove there are these obnoxious "no parking" signs right smack in front of pay stations. Can I park there or not? Is there some arbitrary rule that dictates when I get ticket and when I don't? Because the whole purpose of my parking on the street is so I don't have to pay $6-$10 dollars to safeguard my car for two hours. That's ridiculous.

Some people may counter with the whole, "well you could park a little farther out." And no, I cannot. Reason being, I have yet to hear of the police catching the grove rapist, and I refuse to risk that. Not to mention that parts of the grove have a bad reputation, combine that with the grove rapist and that fond memory of the knife fight and after circling the grove for 30 minutes looking for well-lit parking that won't cost me more than a round or two of drinks and I have already said, "screw it, I'm going to South Miami."

Then if all of this isn't enough of a deterrence, while the grove isn't all about how you look and what you are wearing, it is still pretentious. Often, Grovites have an attitude of annoyance, like they don't want to share their area with non-Grovites. Really? Grow up and get out of the sandbox. When I lived in the Gables, no one ever had that attitude. Probably because local businesses and people there realized that in order for the city to do things like, you know, pay bills and maintain the area, they needed all the cashflow they can get.

The sad thing is, I like the grove. I always have. I like the artsy feel to it, I like that, for the most part, the stores and restaurants are local. I like the relaxed air about it. But it has become too much of a pain to go there. And apparently I am not the only one that holds that opinion. Look at how dead it has become, compared to a few years ago.